May 7, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (left) and center Tim Duncan (21) on the bench during the first half of game four in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Spurs Link-And-Roll - 5.23.12

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Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell: “In Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, the Thunder have what many would claim to be a superior Big Three in this stage of their careers. But where that trio is vaguely held together by the versatility of Harden, the Spurs parts are completely interchangeable and integrated by the 2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year.”

Mark Deeks of The Basketball Jones: “Like a fine wine, and completely unlike gum disease, the Spurs only seem to improve with age. They have won four of the last 14 championships, and made the playoffs for 15 straight years, winning no fewer than 50 games in any full length regular season during that time and only failing to get out of the first round three times. Their winning percentage in that time is about 135 percent. And they never, ever seem to fall off.”

Kawhi Leonard was named to the 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie First Team yesterday.

How many minutes does DeJuan Blair deserve?

Paul Garcia of Project Spurs: “So what happened to Jackson when the Los Angeles Clippers came into town? How did he go from producing Jackson-type numbers to Jefferson-type numbers? Was it just a one-series type of deal? Or, will this trend continue with the Oklahoma City Thunder coming into town on Sunday to begin the Western Conference Finals?”

John Hollinger of ESPN.com (Insider): “While a few of his younger teammates (Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter) are making names for themselves in the playoffs by doing the thing they’d done all season, just now with people watching, it’s a very different story for Diaw. He spent two-thirds of the season on one of the worst teams in history and was one of the main reasons it was so awful.”

Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones profiles the fans in attendance for Game 5 of Lakers-Thunder.

Beckley Mason of Hoops Speak: “Possessions are traded back and forth throughout the game except for at the start of the quarter. That’s when one team gets the ball irrespective of who had it last. By fouling to get the ball back at the end of a quarter, then starting the next quarter with the ball, you give your team the chance to have more possessions than the other team. In a way, it’s like wasting a meaningless foul from a non-essential player to get an extra offensive rebound.”

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: “The Spurs are headed back to the Western Conference finals now, a place that used to be a routine stopover for Duncan en route to his summer home in the NBA Finals. His return has been a long time coming. This will be Duncan’s first trip to the pro version of the Final Four since 2008, and for a while it looked like that would be the last of his Hall of Fame-bound career. … Players get older. Dynasties fade. New contenders emerge. It is the circle of life. And yet there Duncan was early Monday morning, walking out of the Staples Center and toward another conference final four years after his last, wrapped in an old familiar feeling. “We haven’t done anything yet,” Duncan repeated, as if to remind himself. Between now and the end of June, Duncan hopes to make at least eight more triumphant walks like it, step by step toward the NBA mountaintop.”

Stephen A. Smith has finally seen the light.

Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The Spurs use the court like Native Americans killing buffalo when when they have the ball. Leave nothing unused. San Antonio’s offense stretches the defense until it’s busting at the seams trying to create as much space as possible for cutters to find driving and passing lanes and to allow shooters every possible split second to get a 3-pointer off. The Spurs will initiate the high pick-and-roll several steps away from the top of the key, just give Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker multiple angles and a full head of steam.”

Dirk Nowitzki on the Western Conference Finals: “It’s going to be spectacular. Hopefully it’s going to be a long series and we can all watch some great basketball. The whole thing is full of great matchups. Just off the bench with Ginobili and (James) Harden going at it, the two point guards, obviously (Russell) Westbrook was phenomenal against us all series, but Parker is having a phenomenal year, probably in the prime of his career and Duncan is still looking really good this year. And now they got another week off to rest everybody. So, it’s going to be an incredible series to watch.”

Let the comparisons between James Harden and Manu Ginobili begin!

Bill Simmons of Grantland: “But that’s the thing — if you love basketball and (more important) love watching basketball played correctly, the 2012 San Antonio Spurs have a way of grabbing your attention. They play beautifully together. They pull for each other. They make each other better. They score so easily, and in so many different ways, that you almost can’t even process all the different plays as a whole. On Saturday, they eviscerated the Clippers by scoring 24 straight points in the third quarter, bringing back memories of the ’86 Celtics dropping 25 straight against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The biggest difference: The Spurs did it on the road. The biggest similarity: Everything else.”

silverandblack_davis of Pounding the Rock: “I will admit to not really caring much for Tony Parker for the better part of the Tim Duncan era, and I feel no guilt in that. Big Threes are rarely glorified in equal parts for various reasons, as seen in how Chris Bosh has always been marginalized in his triumvirate with LeBron and Wade; Robert Parish forever the iron man, not even a superstar who helped the Larry Bird and Kevin McHale Celtics win titles; Curly, ironically more half-bald pate than curly hair, serving as the butt of jokes in a comedic trio; and Aramis, whose quiet demeanor and lack of rhyme in name to the other Musketeers can make him an afterthought.”

Tom Ziller of SB Nation on the Spurs’ 2008 Draft: “Hill was good enough to a) single-handledly win the Spurs a playoff game, and b) trade for the No. 15 pick (Kawhi Leonard) in 2011. Win-win.”

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